6.07.2010

Where are the Best Wings in Cincinnati? (Dinner Out @ Mulligan's)

While this post does contain a review of Mulligan's, this is really an opportunity to ask the question: Where are the best wings in Cincinnati?  If you already know the answer, skip down and write a comment so I can end my quest.  In this case, the search led to a place that met some non-food related criteria (namely a TV with sound to watch the Lakers/Suns, which had the added bonus of being outside). If you'd like to read about a not-so-good restaurant/bar that typifies what we usually won't go to, then keep on reading.  I should also say, since I don't think Mulligan's is attempting whatsoever to be a good restaurant (it's a bar!) the following explanation of a train wreck is not meant to be too haterific.

The Food:  We asked the bartender if the wings were good and he asked if we liked Frickers' wings.  I do like Frickers' wings, which are breaded - so we chose to order half breaded and half "naked."  At Mulligan's, you order by the pound, and we went with 1 pound of each (side note: we decided while 1 pound is 6-7 wings at Mulligan's, with the skimpy wings at BW3s, which we've resolved not to eat any more unless they're free because they are so small those chickens simply had to have horrible lives, a pound would probably be like 20 wings at BW3s).

We were feeling frisky because it was the day before two, count 'em two, momentous occasions - Sarah's birthday and her last day of school.  So, we went nuts and also ordered beer cheese and loaded tater tots.  And then, beer. One redeeming fact about Mulligan's is that they do have about 20 beers on tap, many of them quite good.  We got Bell's Oberon, an excellent summer brew.

The wings all came "naked" and were literally swimming in sauce, but actually didn't taste too bad.  As it turns out, nothing like Frickers' though.  Oh, and the medium garlic is just the medium with a bit of minced garlic mixed in, barely changing the flavor (I know, stunning).  "Loaded" tater tots weren't too loaded with cheese or bacon, and were generally forgettable.  Believe it or not, the beer cheese was the redeeming part of the meal.  It was like a big cup of melted Boursin - only orange, and a bit spicier.

The Ingredients:  If they have any local or organic ingredients, I'm pretty sure it's by mistake.  In fact, I think I saw the Sysco truck pull up as we were leaving (no, not really).  They did give us "Naturally Fresh" blue cheese - and by "Naturally Fresh" they mean "the furthest possible thing from natural and/or fresh, which we can still call Naturally Fresh because what passes for honest labeling in this country is obscene."  I recently sent this to Mark Bittman, who has started a feature on his newly revamped blog called "This #$!% Has Got to Stop."

The Story, Setting, & Service:  As I mentioned above, the story here is that we were seeking out great wings to eat while watching a basketball game. We went to O'Bryon's (the AC was icy cold, and the outside was too smoky), then Balboa's (no atmosphere, there was almost no one there, and the music was bad), then we were on our way to the Oakley Pub or Ichiban (though, no sound their either) when we decided to check out Mulligan's.  It had a nice combo of the game, sound on the TV, and eating outside on a beautiful night.

We were both starving and not in the mood to wait for a server, so we just went straight to the bar, asked if their wings were any good, then went forward with ordering.  The bartender literally ran back to his spot inside after delivering our food to us, and he seemed like a really nice guy.

Their outdoor area is crazy big, and complete with dead trees in outdoor planters, cornhole, and pool tables, it's like a huge college bar smack dab in the middle of college-less Hyde Park.  The clientele is largely made up of young men that led Sarah to say things like "boat shoes plus dip - that's just attractive," and point out people that still had their badges on from work.  Otherwise, it was a healthy, diverse mix of preppies in button downs and khaki pants and preppies in t-shirts, hats, and khaki shorts.

I should say too, I agree with Hyde Park Foodie's review 100%.

As these were definitely not the best wings in Cincinnati, and I think I can still conjure up the unavoidable smell of vomit when I remember first walking into the outdoor space at Mulligan's, I think it is safe to say that I won't be going back.  Hopefully, those of you who go to Mulligan's will receive this post as a sort of badge of honor that yes, you do frequent a place that is clearly a dump, in the same way that I loved my first car dearly - a 1989 Chevy Nova that became charming precisely because it lacked anything approaching classiness.



Mulligan's Hyde Park Pub on Urbanspoon

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